Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Digital preservation through emulation

The Koninklijke Bibliotheek is working on digital preservation through emulation. A recent e-mail message summarizes discussion at the Emulation Expert Meeting, held in October.

Why do emulation?
Quoting the e-mail message:
  • It preserves and permits access to each digital artifact in its original form and format; it may be the only viable approach to preserving digital artifacts that have significant executable and/or interactive behavior.
  • It can preserve digital artifacts of any form or format by saving the original software environments that were used to render those artifacts. A single emulator can preserve artifacts in a vast range of arbitrary formats without the need to understand those formats, and it can preserve huge corpuses without ever requiring conversion or any other processing of individual artifacts.
  • It enables the future generation of surrogate versions of digital artifacts directly from their original forms, thereby avoiding the cumulative corruption that would result from generating each such future surrogate from the previous one.
  • If all emulators are written to run on a stable, thoroughly-specified "emulation virtual machine" (EVM) platform and that virtual machine can be implemented on any future computer, then all emulators can be run indefinitely.
The KB has several digital preservation projects underway, including work in file formats, emulation and migration. You can view a full list here.

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1 comment:

Vincent said...

Digital preservation is the management of digital information over time. Preservation of digital information is widely considered to require more constant and ongoing attention than preservation of other media.This constant input of effort,time,and money to handle rapid technological and organisational advance is considered the main stumbling block for preserving digital information. Indeed,while we are still able to read our written heritage from several thousand years ago, the digital information created merely a decade ago is in serious danger of being lost,creating a digital Dark Age.
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